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Report of Chinese aircraft flying along M503 untrue: MND

2018/05/14 19:24:15

Taipei, May 14 (CNA) The Ministry of National Defense (MND) on Monday dismissed as untrue a television news report that a Chinese military aircraft was spotted traveling along the M503 aviation route in the Taiwan Strait earlier that day.

SET News reported that China's Air Force conducted drills Monday morning and a Shaanxi Y-8 military transport plane was spotted traveling close to the M503 air route. This was the first time a Chinese military aircraft has traveled along the M503 route, according to the report.

In response, the MND's Air Force Command Headquarters dismissed the report as untrue, saying the Y-8 was actually flying west of the median line of the Taiwan Strait as part of a training program and the ministry scrambled a fighter jet in response.

The military is in full control of the situation and fully able to ensure national security, the headquarters said.

In recent months, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) has held several such drills. In the latest exercise, China's Air Force conducted a long-range drill on Friday that involved aircraft circling Taiwan in opposite directions.

Security concerns were sparked in Taiwan after Beijing unilaterally announced the activation of four new aviation routes in the Taiwan Strait -- a northbound path on the M503 route and three east-west extension routes called W121, W122 and W123 -- in January, without first consulting with Taiwan authorities.

Before that, the M503 flight route ran only north-to-south, following cross-strait negotiations in early 2015.

(By Yiu Kai-hsiang and Evelyn Kao)
Enditem/AW